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Michael Gove ‘refusing to back down over teachers’ strike’

Global news, Teacher salary

The Telegraph

6-11-2013

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, writes to England’s two biggest   teaching unions to confirm that contentious reforms at the centre of recent   strike action are ‘fixed’

Michael Gove was put on a fresh collision course with England’s biggest   classroom unions today after refusing to backtrack over controversial   reforms to the teaching profession.

In a move that raises the possibility of further strike action, the Education   Secretary insisted that the Government’s stance on pay and pensions was    “fixed” and ruled out any possible changes.

The intervention comes just over a week after the National Union of Teachers   (NUT) and the NASUWT suspended a threatened walk-out before Christmas after   revealing Mr Gove had agreed to formal talks.

They are taking part in a long-running protest over the introduction of   performance-related pay in English schools alongside changes to pensions   that will see teachers work for longer and accumulate a smaller retirement   fund.

Both unions – representing around nine-in-10 teachers – had already taken part   in a series of three regional strikes across England over the last few   months.

They had demanded one-on-one talks with the Education Secretary to discuss   reforms of the teaching profession alongside other issues such as workload   and job losses.

In a letter to both unions on Wednesday, Mr Gove said he was committed to    “resolving your trade disputes” and confirmed that he had “offered a   programme of talks”.

But in provocative move, he insisted that the talks would focus on the    “implementation of policy, given that the direction of policy on pay and   pensions is fixed following full consultation”.

In a further intervention, Mr Gove also revealed that every other teaching   association would be invited to the talks. This includes smaller classroom   unions, two associations representing head teachers and even one non-union   body – Edapt – that provides independent advice to teachers on personnel   issues.

He said: “This will help ensure that all are represented fairly, and striking   unions do not have any unfair advantage over other organisations which have   not taken strike action.”

The NUT and NASUWT staged the first in a series of regional walk-outs in the   North West of England on June 27.

They then embarked on two further strikes last month – one concentrating on   the Midlands and Yorkshire, with another taking in the South of England,   North East and Cumbria.

Both unions had been due to take part in a national strike before Christmas   but it was called off after Mr Gove agreed to talks.

Speaking at the time, Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “We are   giving Government the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with   us to resolve our ongoing dispute on pay, pensions and workload.

“We have always been available for such negotiations and would have preferred   that this was a route the Government had gone down sooner rather than later.

“For the sake of teachers and the future of our children’s education I   sincerely hope that the Government takes these talks seriously and we find a   speedy resolution to our dispute.

“Failure to do so will leave us with no choice but to take further action as   the issues at stake are far too important to be swept to one side. If there   has to be national strike action it will be entirely the fault of the   Secretary of State, Michael Gove.”

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